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Sep 11, 2017 // 8:6 AM

3 Tools To Help You Nail Focus Every Time

Written by Meg Tetrault

Filming with a DSLR gives us the opportunity to shoot with a shallow depth of field (to get that out of focus background look that all clients want). When shooting like this, however, you might shocked when you get to post and find that not nearly as many things are in focus as you thought. In this post we break down 3 tools that help nail focus every time you're shooting.

1. Focus Assist

Focus assist essentially hyper sharpens your image to allow you to see where the sharpest part of your frame is. It's a subtle tool if you don't want to be distracted by neon lines on your screen or color overlays. These days, most cameras have their own way of showing it - using an external monitor instead, like a SmallHD or Atomos Shogun, you can customize it to your needs.  The only downside of using focus assist as a tool is sometimes it's too subtle to notice and tends to blend in with the shot. Can you see it in the image below?

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 4.41.29 PM.png

NOTE: On SmallHD monitors Focus Assist is called Peaking.

2. Peaking

Peaking is similar to focus assist however this tool will place a highlighted line on the sharpest part of the image. Shift or pull your focus and the highlighted lines will move. The sensitivity can also be changed (shown in the second image below). Some prefer a less distracting highlight while others want a strong representation of what is in focus, so being able to change that on the fly is helpful. At LensProToGo, we use the peaking tool on nearly all shoots as it provides the most flexibility.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 4.44.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 4.43.02 PM.png

Pro Tip: You can change the color of the highlighted lines to stand out in different shooting scenarios.

3. Magnification

While this isn't the perfect tool to use while trying to focus on a moving subject, it is the most trustworthy tool for still subjects like interviews. With magnification you can zoom into a specific part of the frame to make sure your focus is spot on. Without this tool, your image could look perfectly in focus on a small screen when it's really not. It's the most trustworthy of tools you can use if you don't mind getting up close and personal!

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 4.45.08 PM.png


All of the above tools are great to have on set and most cameras have some form of these built in! Adding a monitor can provide you these tools if your camera doesn't readily have them. 

Want to see these tools in action? Check out our video below!

 

Topics: Filmmaking Camera Tips


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